Excerpt from Every Rising Sun by Jamila Ahmed, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Every Rising Sun

A Novel

by Jamila Ahmed

Every Rising Sun by Jamila Ahmed X
Every Rising Sun by Jamila Ahmed
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Jul 2023, 432 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Katharine Blatchford
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


There are words and then there are words. Words that can bind hearts, break a marriage, rupture an empire. Words that burn in your mouth like black peppercorn, that crack the soul like bone, that linger in the air until the Day of Reckoning's trumpets shred mountains to cotton and break the earth like an egg. Words created the dizzying spiral of our worlds—The Creator of Heavens and Earth … He but says "Be" and it Is—and so too, will they destroy it.

But for now, I call out my sister's name and hope it draws my quarry nearer. "Dunyazade!" My slippers skid across the time-polished floor of Bam's citadel. "Dunya!"

As my call fades around a corner, I hear a protesting voice. "… The Khwarezmid forces and Oghuz armies have each been expanding into Persia. Seljuks are falling before them in battle. Your wife's father, Sultan Toghrul, and the Seljuk Empire itself stand on the brink of defeat."

"Do not forget the Franks, calling themselves Crusaders, still besiege Acre. Sultan Saladin has appealed again for aid."

I can make sense of only about half of what is being said. We have heard that the Franks have renewed their assault on the Muslims of Jerusalem, but that is a drama so far away it might as well be another world. The Oghuz and the Khwarezmids, though, are twin menaces much closer to our hearts, wild people rapidly gnawing away at our Seljuk Empire—although they are yet parasangs north of Kirman, each occupied with defeating Sultan Toghrul and his emirs.

"We shall see to it that my father-in-law receives aid. My wife will have it no other way."

I recognize this voice immediately. The Malik.

Rounding the corner, I collide with a knot of men. Papers fly as my feet skip, my slipper slides, and I claw at the faience wall behind me for support. The Malik steadies me, his fingers curling around my shoulders. Behind him, his advisers' faces twist in disapproval. A pair of scribes scurry to gather the sheaves drifting down like snow.

A furious blush heats my cheeks. I step away from the Malik, my shoulders hot and cold where he touched them.

"Apologies," I mumble.

The scribes dart veiled glares at me.

"Are you searching for your sister, Shaherazade Khatun?" The Malik tucks a lock of black hair, jostled loose by our collision, into his jeweled turban. The impulse to tug it forth again, feel its cool silkiness slide against my palm, suffuses my fingers. I clench my hands tightly.

I drop my eyes. Nod.

Even nine years after his wedding, over eight years living alongside him in the Arg-e-Bam, and knowing him for each of my nineteen years, I still struggle to articulate myself in his presence. Before his majesty and kindness, I feel my veins blossom and hot blood dissolve my muscles and bones. I could be left for a formless heap at his feet.

He laughs fondly and I feel foolish. I wish I had turned the corner and careened into anyone else, or better yet: glided past the Malik, demurely inclining my head.

"Halt your search. You will not find her until she wants to be found." He gives me a knowing look. Dunya's reluctance to my lessons is infamous, a joke that apparently has risen to the Malik's ears. "But do me a favor and find Fataneh Khatun."

I nod, trying to recover the grace I have lost. Judging from the councillors' eyes, the effort is not well received. I am sure Baba will hear of this. Still, the Malik's eyes twinkle with gentle amusement.

"Your father told me part of a story you told him," the Malik calls as I retreat.

I whip around, my heart hammering.

He smiles. "I should like to know the ending, someday."

"I—I … I should find Fataneh Khatun."

How could Baba have told him? I duck and flee, and the drumbeat of my heart drowns all sound.

* * *

  • 1
  • 2

Copyright © 2023 by Jamila Ahmed

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  A'isha bint Abu Bakr

Join BookBrowse

For a year of great reading
about exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Loved and Missed
    by Susie Boyt
    London-based author and theater director Susie Boyt has written seven novels and the PEN Ackerley ...
  • Book Jacket: Beyond the Door of No Return
    Beyond the Door of No Return
    by David Diop
    In early 19th-century France, Aglaé's father Michel Adanson dies of old age. Sitting at ...
  • Book Jacket: Crossings
    by Ben Goldfarb
    We've all seen it—a dead animal carcass on the side of the road, clearly mowed down by a car. ...
  • Book Jacket: Wifedom
    by Anna Funder
    When life became overwhelming for writer, wife, and mother Anna Funder in the summer of 2017, she ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Fair Rosaline
by Natasha Solomons
A subversive, powerful untelling of Romeo and Juliet by New York Times bestselling author Natasha Solomons.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Digging Stars
    by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

    Blending drama and satire, Digging Stars probes the emotional universes of love, friendship, family, and nationhood.

  • Book Jacket

    This Is Salvaged
    by Vauhini Vara

    Stories of uncanny originality from Vauhini Vara, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

Win This Book
Win Moscow X

25 Copies to Give Away!

A daring CIA operation threatens chaos in the Kremlin. But can Langley trust the Russian at its center?



Solve this clue:

A M I A Terrible T T W

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.